How we went from stress to financial success.
It all started in January of 2013. That is when Sarah and I had an experience that we'll forever remember being a major turning point in our life. I like to refer to this experience as our "I've had it!" moment, and I can't stress enough the magnitude of importance it has played in our life since then.
Up to that point in our marriage (three years in), we were very unorganized and undisciplined when it came to money. We spent what we wanted, when we wanted, and borrowed money for anything we couldn't pay cash for. We had a sizable amount of debt, and our savings account was virtually non-existent. There was no plan for our finances, and the word "budget" was very foreign to us (we couldn't have even begun to explain what it meant to live by one). We always seemed to be on the edge when it came to having enough money each month. Money had become a point of contention in our marriage, and this brought a lot of extra stress with it. Things were starting to come to a head, and that's when it happened. We said "That's it! We're not living like this anymore!".
At that point we were both four months away from graduating with our Bachelor's degrees, and had no idea how much we actually owed in student loans. After sitting down and adding everything up, we discovered that together we owed $103,000 in student loans. $103,000! In addition to that, we had another $50,000 of consumer debt in the form of two vehicle loans, a boat loan, credit cards, a financed computer, and several other small debts. We figured out that once our student loan payments became due, we would have $1,000/month more in bills and debt payments than we had of income coming in at that point. At age 28 we were $153,000 in debt and broke. This was a scary place to be for a young married couple, and we knew we had to make a change.
So what did we do about it? We took ownership of our financial situation. We knew that since we were the ones who created the mess, we were also the ones that could fix it. Utilizing principals taught by Dave Ramsey (Author of The Total Money Makeover) and Tom Stanley (Author of The Millionaire Next Door), we took charge and drastically changed the way we handled money. We locked down our spending and lived on a budget. We managed our money and made every dollar go as far as it could. We became united in our goals, and worked together as team. By working together and controlling our money and ourselves, we were able to get rid of $83,000 of debt in 30 months (that's an average of almost $2800/month!). At that point, we had eliminated every consumer debt we had other than our student loans (we had even paid off $33,000 of those!).
It was now the summer of 2015. It had always been Sarah's goal to be a Nurse Practitioner, and we had just received the good news that she had been accepted into NDSU's Doctorate of Nursing program. She started school that fall, and during the next three years of her being in the program, we were able to cover every education related expense without taking on any more debt. So, how we were able to do this? Simple. We had gotten rid of close to $2,000 of monthly debt payments, and actually had access to our entire income. Had we still had payments due on all of that $83,000 of debt, paying cash for her DNP program would not have been possible.
When Sarah walked across NDSU's graduation stage in May of 2018, we knew that we had accomplished something amazing together. Did I mention we also had two children during those three years?
We welcomed our third child in November 2019!
In December of 2020 we will be 100% consumer debt free. Had you told them then, that scared young couple I mentioned in the beginning probably wouldn't have believed they'd someday have the quality of life they do now. The great thing is, we are just getting started.
You may wonder why I share our personal story so openly? I can assure you it's not to brag. It's all about hope. It's to illustrate that you can accomplish incredible things with your life and money IF you're willing to put in the work and make the necessary changes. IF you're willing to open your mind to new information and a new way of handling your finances.
Have you had your "I've had it!" moment? Are you ready to take charge and transform your life? If so, it's time for us to meet and get started.